It’s a big weekend in MMA, which is only fitting considering the year we’ve had. I’m in Connecticut for the final round of the IFL Grand Prix, while across the country the UFC has one of their best offerings of 2007. That’s enough great MMA in one night to last you several months, but if you really want more there’s always the Fedor-Choi New Year’s Eve show in a couple of days. In case you haven’t heard, that fight will supposedly feature special rules outlawing knee strikes (aka: Choi’s best weapon), thus upgrading it from a farce to a mockery.
Anyway, now it’s time for one of my favorite little games: breaking down the betting odds. Bodog has odds on the UFC, IFL, and Yarrenoka! (Fedor’s going off at -1500, in case you were curious), but I’m going to stick to just the UFC so as to avoid any conflict of interest.
Once again, bet on MMA at your own risk. It probably isn’t a good idea. But I’m guessing people have told you that before, but you just won’t listen.
Matt Hughes (+190) vs. Georges St. Pierre (-240)
Even after Hughes’ last performance against St. Pierre and his face-heel turn in the last year and a half, I’m still a little saddened to see the line this lopsided. Let’s not forget that Hughes dominated the welterweight division for years. Those years seem to be all in the past, but after St. Pierre’s loss to Serra who knows what’s going on in his mind? St. Pierre needs this win for his psyche and for his confidence. If he starts out tentative Hughes could shock him, but don’t bet on it. St. Pierre is still the favorite here for good reason.
Chuck Liddell (+110) vs. Wanderlei Silva (-140)
I’d be interested to know exactly what this line is based on. Both guys are coming off two straight losses, both are on the downside of once-dominant careers, and both need this win to stay in the game. Stylistically, Silva seems tailor made for Liddell, but so did Keith Jardine. I still like Liddell in this one, and though the line isn’t great it might be good enough for small action.
Rameau Sokoudjou (-115) vs. Lyoto Machida (-115)
I’ve seen varying lines on this fight, with most pegging Sokoudjou the slight underdog. That’s understandable, considering Machida’s ability to slow a fight down and control it. Sokoudjou is explosive, but still untested. I like him to win this, but it could easily go either way and the line isn’t much help at all.
Melvin Guillard (-225) vs. Rich Clementi (+185)
Guillard is the more athletically dangerous fighter here, but Clementi is a better tactician and technician. If Guillard gets reckless Clementi could easily take him. The line is good enough to justify some risk here.
Dean Lister (-325) vs. Jordan Radev (+250)
Radev had a wrestling background, so this isn’t as lopsided as some previous bouts the UFC has given to Lister. Still, anyone with anything other than a stellar ground game is probably in trouble against “The Boogeyman”. This should be interesting to see how Lister rebounds from a previous injury and how his striking game is coming. If you’re one of the people who believe he’s dumb enough to stand and trade for very long before taking it to the mat, go ahead and put money down on Radev. I am not one of those people.